sat 20/07/2024

Reissue CDs Weekly: Kreaturen Der Nacht | reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: Kreaturen Der Nacht

Reissue CDs Weekly: Kreaturen Der Nacht

Engaging round-up of German post-punk

Creatures of the night: Berlin’s Mania D in 1980Jutta Henglein

The famous names on Kreaturen Der Nacht: Deutsche Post-Punk Subkultur 1980–1984 are Christiane F., Die Haut, Malaria! and Mania D. Committed collectors of German post-punk and those who there at the time might be familiar with Ausserhalb, ExKurs or Leben Und Arbeiten.

In eschewing DAF, Die Krupps, Der Plan, Einstürzende Neubauten, Liaisons Dangereuses, Holger Hiller, Palais Schaumburg and Die Tödliche Doris, this deep-digging compilation paints a picture of German music from the first half of the 1980s as stimulating as it’s unfamiliar.

Kreaturen Der Nacht collects 16 tracks by 16 bands/performers. It opens with Leben Und Arbeiten’s “Amanita”, a track from a 1982 EP produced by Einstürzende Neubauten’s Blixa Bargeld issued by the Hamburg label ZizkZack. Bassist Rumme Beck had previously been in Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh, who took their name from a Magma album. Their guitarist Jochen Arbeit went on to Die Haut and Einstürzende Neubauten. By delineating the who-was-who and the what-was-what, Kreaturen Der Nacht fills in blanks to show that much of what’s heard was part of a continuum. Equally importantly, “Amanita” is fantastic: snappy, bass guitar-driven darkness somewhere between Bauhaus and Gang of Four.

Kreaturen Der NachtAlso amongst the almost-unknowns who stand out are the all-female Ausserhalb, whose again Bauhaus-ish but additionally Liquid Liquid-evoking 1983 LP track “Zeitzelle” is, so the liner notes say, a “feminist classic about how women are imprisoned by labels, stuck in time.” It’s wonderful.

Much less brooding is Andreas Dorau & Die Marinas’s nursery rhyme-like “Fred Vom Jupiter”, a 1981 single that was “the first German new wave hit.” Sounding an awful lot like France Gall’s 1968 single “Computer Nr. 3”, it was recorded as a school project. Dorau says the success was “not fun for me. It didn’t represent the hatred I had for most people. I was 16 when ‘Fred Vom Jupiter’ appeared and I had had enough of adolescence. My classmates had previously treated me with contempt because I was a freak who was not interested in girls and football. I did not even have a moped. Instead of playing football, I went through nine guitar teachers. The last one was Holger Hiller, who had studied improvised music and explained to me one day, when I had not practised again, how a four-track recording device works.”

Kreaturen Der Nacht_Malaria!_© Peter GruchotThe two names which received non-German media exposure away from their records are Die Haut and Christiane F. Die Haut’s “Der Karibische Western” was recorded in London and performed live on Channel 4’s The Tube during a special segment filmed in Germany on local new music. Christiane F. was the subject of the film of the same name. In 1982, she was in Los Angeles to promote Christiane F. – Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo (its full title) and was asked by DJ Rodney Bingenheimer if she would like to make a record. “Wunderbar” was the almost-instant New York-recorded result, issued on the LA label Posh Boy. Also great: an electro-romp in the vein of the Tom Tom Club.(pictured left, Malaria! © Peter Gruchot)

Nodding back, echoes of what’s thought of as Krautrock come through in the future porn soundtrack composer Stefan Blöser’s “Voyager One”, with its suggestions of Kraftwerk and France’s Space, and the snatches of Eno bubbling up during Matthias Schuster's “An Rah Robeel”.

From the perspective of 2018, when it feels that everything has been reissued, every archive has been scraped clean and that endless reconfigurations are the habitual order of the day, it’s a pleasure to be presented with a compilation saying something new about a partially familiar subject, and doing so properly by including annotation and good liner notes. Gratifyingly, Kreaturen Der Nacht also pays no heed paid to notions of received narratives or taste.

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